Instructional Science

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 75-90

First online:

The role of anomaly and of cognitive dissonance in restructuring students' concepts of force

  • Paul GorskyAffiliated withNational Museum of Science
  • , Menahem FinegoldAffiliated withIsrael Institute of Technology, Technion

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This paper reports a study of (1) students' responses to an anomaly generated by the juxtaposition of opposing explanatory frameworks and (2) the nature and impact of cognitive conflict as students move from pre-scientific to scientific explanatory frameworks concerning the concept of force. Both rational and emotional responses to anomaly were observed and student responses to anomaly were ranked according to the extent of disequilibrium generated. In addition, ways in which students resolve anomaly were recorded and processes associated with dissonance resolution and learning were hypothesized. Finally, the impact of dissonance was seen to influence students' epistemological beliefs about learning.